In 1924, a group of ladies began to collect books to establish a
library in Lufkin. The Ladies Auxiliary of the Chamber of Commerce
purchased a former kindergarten school building on Ellis Avenue and
opened Lufkin’s first public library in that one room frame
building. Mrs. J. W. Hawkins was the librarian
and the library was home to approximately 1,000 books.
the 1920s, a Lufkin citizen, Joseph H. Kurth bequeathed $10,000 to
the city to be used for “Lufkin’s greatest civic need”. His sons,
J.H., E.L, R.W., and Melvin, decided that a library should be
erected in memory of their parents, and a lovely brick building was
erected on Cotton Square. Kurth Memorial Library opened on January
1, 1933, with Mrs. Ora McMullen as the first employed librarian, and
a book collection numbering at approximately 2,500.
By 1940, the library’s collection had reached 10,250 volumes. As
the community grew and library needs were expanded, the building was
added to in 1948 and again in the 1960s. In 1970, when the original
building was in need of repairs and remodeling which were not
feasible, a fund-raising campaign was started and ground was broken
in 1971 for a new building, twice as large as the original building,
in the same location. Major renovations were done to the building
in the mid-1980s.
In the late 1990s, with the library once again in need of help due
to growth and a building in dire need of repairs, the community once
again stepped in to help. An anonymous donor provided funding to
build a new library at the current location on South Raguet. Ribbon
cutting for this new building was on April 26, 2001.
In 1965, the Lufkin Genealogical and Historical Society started the
genealogy, local and state history collection known as the “Ora
McMullen Room.” Today, the Ora McMullen Genealogy
Room houses the John Wilkins Collection and attracts people
throughout East Texas who enjoy researching their family heritage.
The genealogy collection includes United States census information
in book form and microfilm from 1850 through 1930 for most counties
in Texas and several southern states, the Lufkin Daily News on
microfilm from 1913 through 2007, access to online genealogy
research tools such as Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest, as
well as an extensive collection of print resources that contain data
for most states.
On October 1, 2000, the library became a department of the City of
Lufkin, housed within the Parks and Recreation department. The City
is responsible for staff salaries, utilities and day-to-day
operational costs. The Library Board, consisting of nine members
and two ex-officio members, is responsible for all books, audio
materials, video materials, computer programs, magazines, etc. that
are purchased for patron use, as well as all equipment, furniture
and educational programming.
its history, Kurth Memorial Library has had capable leadership in
its librarians and library directors. Those individuals who have
helped the library become such a success are Mrs. J. W. Hawkins,
Mrs. Ora McMullen, Johnie McCall, Lillian
Rutherford, Jimmie Fisher, Elizabeth Hartmen, Helen Mills, Ryan
Alsworth, Joycelyn Clare, Terri Boomer, Sue Randleman and the
current director, Lorraine Simoneau. Dedicated staff members have
made these people’s jobs much easier through the years.
Through the years, Kurth Memorial Library has had tremendous
support from the Lufkin community, starting
with the Ladies Auxiliary and including the Kurth family, and the
Lufkin Service League, who kicked off the fund-raising effort in the
1970s with a generous donation. Other supporters include the
various members who have served on the Library Board of Directors,
the Friends of the Library and the Angelina County Genealogical
Society throughout the years, the many civic groups and individuals
who have donated time, talents and resources to the library, and all
of the patrons who have enjoyed
the library’s services.
The library currently has nearly 32,000 patron accounts and 78,300
items in the collection. The
library’s collection includes separate sections for children’s
books, young adult books, reference and adult books. Special
collections include biographies, westerns, science-fiction,
mysteries, romance and Spanish language materials. There are also
selections of large-print books, audio books on both cassette and
CD, and video materials on both VHS tape and DVD.